The other day, someone was speaking highly about a skill I have while I was in the room, and I felt uncomfortable.
I felt awkwardly caught in the headlights!
The issue wasn’t that I had overheard, because the person knew I was there.
The real issue?
I am not used to praise and compliments, especially in public.
I had a normal upbringing, but as I entertained myself pretty well (as readers and kids on bikes tend to do) I didn’t tend to be on my parents’ radar much unless i did something wrong. Which, like any normal kid does, I did.
Both my parents were raised with the same style of parenting. Other than I love you’s, there wasn’t much verbal encouragement unless it was related to grades, again very normal for that generation, and NOT a negative reflection on my parents. Just an observation.
The result in my mind? When I did get called on my behaviour, it felt like being in the principal’s office waiting for the chastisement to begin. Which is now sort of funny, because as a singer and musician, I am used to being seen…. but I am not a head right for the spotlight kinda gal
As a result, I have had a hard time with criticism, as I didn’t often get its counterpart of encouragement. If you offer it publicly, I used to be even worse accepting it. Occasionally even full blown panic attacks. If it was written down, not so bad, as I could digest it in private.
I did have a few teachers who tried to build me up, but to a kid who doesn’t get a lot of attention unless its negative (again, my perception) I didn’t really know what to do with it.
Into the locker of my brain it went.
As a young adult, I grew a hard skin to compensate, until I ran head first right into His embrace.
God’s words bypassed my hardened shell and shot into my heart, so I was able to receive the words of love and hope He had for me, and could accept the promise of restoration.
Fast forward to my marriage.
To a man who got no attention unless it was negative.
See the pattern here?
I got some counseling & mentoring over the years, but nothing seemed to come close to this issue.
Three years ago, I started working for my first really encouraging boss. On a regular basis, this person tries to speak encouragement to keep using your gifts, his appreciation for the hard work we do, and general blessing. A year later, I began working for another boss, who has a similar thankful & encouraging style.
More encouragement started being spoken to me on a regular basis, but usually on a small scale.
Last year, I added a few more freelance bosses as i began to run my own small business, and each of them has also been a blessing, and express gratitude.
I am very grateful to God for the blessing it is to have such great people to work for and with. It has taken almost 3 years for me to accept verbal kind words my direction.
Then the worst thing (in my imagination) happened to me just over a month ago.
I was sitting in a prophetic service (which I am fine with, btw!) where the pastor began publicly sharing the words He was sharing through him.
All of a sudden my heart started racing, and I clearly heard “He is going to speak to you next.”
I am so thankful God gave me the heads up, because if He hadn’t I would have missed what was said in my shock at being singled out.
Coz the word was so encouraging.
And God knew I needed to hear it out loud, in front of witnesses.
Because not only did it answer a question I had, but it released something in the heavenlies.
I don’t need to be afraid any longer of every word I am about to hear being a negative one.
God has been using others and His word to remind me I do have good characteristics & skills, which has helped me become more balanced in my own thinking about myself.
I still need correction, as we all do. Now, I can take it as a part of the picture, instead of perceiving every thing to be a mountain out of a molehill. And I am getting used to it coming out in ways I cannot always expect.
I have learned I don’t want to limit how God wants to encourage or bless me, and as I trust Him more, He reassures my heart as to who i am to Him.
And the fear begins to ebb, and I can take in what He wants me to hear and learn.
So no more awkward deer or moose caught in the headlights for me, at least after the initial few seconds any ways!